This is a story about love, about cultural divides, about fractured lives, about redemption. It sears and blazes and builds tension so convincingly that the last 60 pages are almost unbearable. This is writing of the highest quality and, despite – or even because of – its complex and subtle layering, utterly credible storytelling.
It is written from four narrative standpoints: the first, Sammy and Neesh, lifelong friends whose deep childhood attachment has matured into a love that is ‘a leap of electricity’ between them – but forbidden, now, always. She is Indian, he is English – but more impossible still, she is a daa’ini, a healer, a psychic and thus her mother insists that she can never marry.
Kefin is damaged beyond reason or repair – abused by his father, witnessing his mother drowned by him, whipped up into a racist frenzy by his taunts and curses, determined to kill Neesh and reclaim his grandmother’s house.
Ironically, Sammy’s grandfather links Sammy and Neesha’s families and, through his memories and regrets, paints a poignant story of his deep love for Neesh’s great-aunt during his youth in Kashmir and its catastrophic consequences.
There is no glib dovetailing of narrative threads here – rather an interwoven commentary which forewarns, illuminates, teaches, destroys. This is a thrilling, moving and thought-provoking book which is an essential read for those who want to be truly transported to other worlds where the familiar becomes the threat and a sense of identity is a corrosive thing.